Geist: Access Loses Big
Access Copyright suffers (and will suffer even more) from the hubris of believing it could stop the flow of time and force users–of whatever sort–to pay big for content just because they wanted them to. The users include government, education and just about everyone in-between. And Access wanted a lot. When I looked upon the company, and the deals it had inked, I wondered how long something like this could last. The answer: not long.
The Copyright Board of Canada delivered a devastating defeat to Access Copyright on Friday, releasing its decision on a tariff for copying by employees of provincial governments. Access Copyright had initially sought $15 per employee for the period from 2005 – 2009 and $24 per employee for the period from 2010 – 2014. It later reduced its demands to $5.56 and $8.45. The board conducted a detailed review of the copying within government and the applicability of the Access Copyright licence. Its final decision gives Access Copyright pennies rather than dollars: 11.56 cents for 2005-2009 and 49.71 cents for 2010-2014.
Yet as bad as the specific outcome is for Access Copyright, the longer term implications are even worse. Revenues from government and corporate copying are useful, but bigger money lies with its education licenses.
In particular: Fair dealing.
The fair dealing analysis is the most important part of the decision since it represents the first time that Access Copyright’s restrictive fair dealing theories have been assessed by the Board. The outcome is a huge loss for the copyright collective as the Board rejected argument after argument. Some of the most important ones include: